Whew!! :D {LOOOOONG!}

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by ChicknThief, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. ChicknThief

    ChicknThief Songster

    Jan 12, 2008
    Nor Cal
    I JUST finished my 20 pg, 4,551 word essay on chickens!!! Complete with pics and ready for the teach for tomorrow!! [​IMG]

    Now I have to get started on my Home Ec essay. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2008
  2. ChicknThief

    ChicknThief Songster

    Jan 12, 2008
    Nor Cal
    For anyone who might be interested, (probably just me but hey [​IMG] ) Here is the essay. The pics probably wont show up because they are not on photobucket. Any thought or suggestions on how to make it better? Am I mistaken on any "facts" or thoughts that I listed?

    Advice from anyone with the patience to read this whole gosh darned thing would be appreciated. [​IMG]

    *my name*

    The Chicken Chronicles
    An essay in novel form

    On August 27, 2007, my family and I embarked on a new adventure in a most wildly unexpected way. Most of my friends laughed at me when I told them of our new endeavor; little did they, or we, know what an all consuming project it would become.

    It all started on August 3rd as I was browsing through the newspaper. I came upon the classifieds and one ad in particular caught my attention. It read: “40 Bantams for Sale in Grass Valley, 20$, feed, feeder, and waterer included.” Having seen this ad, I began thinking about maybe having chickens, and asked my mother about it. She said that I was crazy. The ad came and went but it was too late. I had already been bitten by the “chicken bug”.

    I ceaselessly pestered mom about the idea of having chickens of our own. She resisted at first but after a while she began to warm up to the idea. We began to look into what to use to keep chicks in until they got big enough to be outside. We then remembered a certain gem that we had been keeping in storage: a large dog crate with a detachable lid. It would be perfect. There was only one thing left to do. On August 23, 2007, we all hopped into the car en route to the feed store, and prepared ourselves to be adopted by a chicken.

    We walked into the feed store and were instantly greeted by a cacophony of peeps and chirps. Mom reminded me once again that we would only be getting four and no more. I agreed, and we proceeded toward the chick room. Upon entry we observed several brooders stacked atop one another, each with its own heat lamp, and label of the breed each contained. I had done my homework on the subject and immediately began inspecting the Rhode Island Reds and the Barred Rocks, knowing that they would be the most prolific layers. After I had picked out two of each breed, mother started cuddling with one as she continued to eye the brooders. She sidled over and suggested that maybe we should get three of each after all. Along with the chicks we purchased chick started, feeders, waterers, and a heat lamp. And so began our chicken addiction.

    The original six.

    By the time we arrived home they had all been named. The three Barred Rocks were Zorro, Alejandro, and Thumper, and the three Rhode Island Reds were Chicken Little, Sunny Side Up (later renamed “Duck” for a tendency to waddle like one), and Rosie. We set them up in their dog crate/brooder (see fig. 1 & 2), and for a few days they thrived. However, after those few days, my favorite Barred Rock Thumper fell ill and passed a few hours later. After another couple of days, we began to notice some distinctly rooster-like characteristics in our Rhode Island Red Rosie. “She” had a very erect posture, thick legs, and a curious but sour disposition. We kept “her” for the sake of argument that “she” might still be a girl after all, but when “she” determined herself to be a “he” by trying to foot-fight the other chicks we took him back to the feed store. While we were there we decided to replace the two we no longer had. We wound up leaving the feed store with four chicks: a Blue Cochin, a Light Brahma, a Silkie, and an Easter Egger.

    Fig. 1 Fig. 2

    Misty Moores Baby

    Cleopatra and Hoohoo Sunny Side Up acting like a puppy

    We easily mixed them in with our existing chicks and gave the new arrivals names: Misty Moores, Bitsy, Pearl, and Cleopatra consecutively. Once again, a few days after bringing them home, two of the chicks began showing signs of illness. Misty Moores, the Blue Cochin, grew weak and listless as her breathing became more and more labored. She, as with Thumper, passed a few hours later. However, there was still one more chick that was giving us reason for concern. We had learned on our online forum about a disease called wry neck, and Pearl, my brother’s Silkie, showed all of the symptoms. She would just let her head hang down, touching the ground, and seize. Her poor little head would just flop all over the place, and there was nothing she, nor we, could do about it. Unfortunately wry neck is an incurable poultry disease and we were forced to put her out of her misery.


    We eventually journeyed to the feed store to buy some more chick starter. We made the mistake of venturing into the chick room – just to take a peek, of course – and fell in love all over again. We wound up leaving the store with five more chicks: another Blue Cochin, a Splash Silkie, a bantam Frizzled Cochin, another Easter Egger, and a Golden-Laced Wyandotte, whom we named Bella, Splash, Baby, Hoohoo, and Nona consecutively. By this time the original chicks were getting quite large; they had become much too large for their crate/brooder in fact. We began to look into what we could possibly use as an outdoor coop, and my little sister’s Godmother came to mind. She had several chickens, and was also in possession of a small coop that she was no longer using. It was very small, and falling apart, but she let us have it for free, so we took it. Several parts of it were rotting away, so we re-built, fortified, and re-painted the entire thing. When we had finished with it, we moved the chicks out to their new home.

    Before After

    They seemed ecstatic with their new-found outdoor lives. They flew up to the perches that we had set in place for them, and seemed to immensely enjoy doing so. We did not, however, consider the potential problems with having the perches where the chickens sleep so close to the hardware cloth that was the barrier between the chicks and the outside nighttime world. One morning I went outside to check on my chicks and to make sure they had food and water, and as I drew close, I saw all of the other chicks ganging up on, and pecking my Rhode Island Red, Chicken Little. There was blood all over the coop, and upon closer examination, all over Chicken Little. I rushed her into the house and began to clean her up. The other chicks had brutalized her face; taking off all of her facial feathers on that side, and picking her then exposed skin raw. As the bits of coagulated blood began to come off of her face, a small cut became visible. It caught my attention, because a chicken beak could not have made a cut like that; it was very clean, as if something very sharp had cut into her face. After putting some antibiotic on her face, I went back out to the coop to see what I could find in the way of clues as to what happened. I saw that right underneath the lowest perch was were the blood was thickest, and realized what had happened. As our chicks were sleeping that night, Chicken Little must have had her head too close to the hardware cloth. A predator, such as a cat or a raccoon saw her, and tried to grab her through the wire. All this predator managed to do was cut her face with its claws and then went away. When the rest of the chickens awoke the next morning and saw the blood, they began attacking the injured one as their instinct told them to eliminate the weak. Chicken Little’s face eventually healed and re-feathered, and we were able to re-integrate her into the flock.

    Right about the same time we mixed her back in, we began to let them free range outside of the coop. Our problems, however, were not quite over yet. Splash the Silkie turned out to be a rooster, and Hoohoo the Easter Egger had developed a crooked beak (see fig. 3). The lower half of her beak began growing to the side, rendering her unable to eat or drink. Splash was taken back to the feed store and Hoohoo had to be put down. We later learned that Baby is also a rooster, but after we walked him around the neighborhood introducing him to our neighbors, who decided that they loved him, we decided to keep him.

    Hoohoo with Cross break (fig. 3)

    We knew that our chicks would soon out-grow their juvenile coop, so we decided to attempt to build our own, larger coop. It would have to be big enough for them, but also light and portable. We played around with several ideas and finally settled on a particular design that we had drawn up. We went down to the Roseville Home Depot to pick up supplies that we needed such as siding, 2x4s, 4x4s, hardware cloth, 1x2s, screws, wood staples, hook and eye set-ups, hinges, door latches, etc. and were slapped with a 500$ bill of sale. We went home and began constructing what at the time seemed impossible to create. First we made a foundation box by nailing some 2x4’s into a 4’x8’x8” cubic rectangle. We then nailed plywood onto the sides. After that we built the frame for the rest of the coop, including a very unique floor plan. We stretched hardware cloth across the framework to make a mesh floor. In this way, the chicken droppings would fall through the mesh and onto a tarp covered in insulating straw that we had laid on the foundation box. This ingenious system has made our coop easy to clean and virtually void of “fowl” odor. After this we nailed up the siding that became the walls of the coop, and installed the window, the entry/exit door, the egg collecting door, and the ventilation door, which could be opened and still contain the chickens. This was because there was a “screen” of hardware cloth stretched over the opening. We then began to decorate the inside of our coop. We purchased closet shelving, and installed it inside the coop to be utilized as perches. After adding in some roll-out drawers for nesting boxes, the coop was complete and the chickens were introduced to their new home.

    As the chickens began to mature, we began noticing more and more about each individual’s unique personality. Some were camera hams, while others were very shy and difficult to get a hold of. We would spend countless hours outside watching them, and observing how their intricate social system works. Each chicken has its own distinct place in the pecking order. If a chicken wishes to better its rank, it must challenge the next chicken up. They do this by holding their heads high in the approach of the chicken they are challenging, and by seeing who can peck who the hardest for the longest, and who can kick, scratch, and bite off the most feathers. The loser backs down and loses its rank, and the victor takes its place. This is the usual case.

    Zorro the Camera Ham

    Our chickens had only been in our new coop for about a month before a new emergency occurred. I was down in Grass Valley, and while I was there, mother asked me to stop by a certain feed store (it shall remain unnamed) to pick up some Purina Chicken Chow. The feed store was closed when I arrived, but a very soft clucking noise caught my attention as I was walking away. I looked to my right and saw a chain-link dog run, half covered by a small tarp wrought with holes (keep in mind that this was the middle of December). I approached this dog run, to discover that there were two chickens being kept inside. One seemed healthy; the other appeared dead. I stuck my hand through the fence and touched the ill chicken; all she did was barely shift her head to look at me before she laid it down again and closed her eyes. I was mortified at the condition of these hens. Their perches consisted of rotting boards with rusty nails protruding from them, just waiting to puncture the tender flesh of a chicken’s foot. They had little water, and the only thing they had to eat was chicken scratch, which has absolutely no nutritional value for chickens and should be used only as treats.

    Upon closer inspection of the sick hen, I realized that her entire back end was covered in her own filth and her feathers were all shredded up. She was disgustingly dirty and grimy, and if left in those conditions, she would die in the cold of that December night. I checked the latch on the run; it was unlocked. I called mother to inform her of what I was doing, and she agreed that it was the best thing to do. I walked over to my car, emptied my purse, and proceeded to the run with it in hand. Catching the chicken was easy enough. It was just a matter of lowering my empty handbag over her and carrying her to my car. The entire car-ride home, she laid in my bag on the passenger-side floor, not moving.

    I talked to her the entire way home. I even named her Tiramisu, thinking that she was brown and white. When I got her home we gave her a bath and discovered that she was not in fact brown at all, but black. She had just been so dirty and ill that she appeared brown. We set up a small dog kennel for her and did everything we could think of. She was offered cooked egg, yogurt, oatmeal-cooked and uncooked, vitamins-both liquid form dripped into her beak and the soluble form that we mixed into her water, etc. On some days she would seem better; on others she would eat nothing and grow very weak again. She spent most of her time sitting on top of the kennel instead of inside of it. Then one morning we went out to our living room to find that she was unable to stand.

    We felt her legs and feet for breaks, but did not find any. I thought to turn her over and look for sores on the bottom of her feet. Sure enough, Tira had bumblefoot. Bumblefoot is another name for a staphylococcal infection of the foot pads; it was a result of roosting on the perches at that feed store that had the rusty nails sticking out of them. There are several different ways to treat bumblefoot. One way is to pull the infection out. In the middle of each sore there is a stinky, cheese-like mass, and most find that by removing this, the chicken will heal. This option, however, was not open to us. When the mass is removed, it releases a myriad of bacteria into
    the chickens system, and it takes a strong, healthy chicken’s immunity system to fight them off. Our chicken was neither strong, nor healthy, and a bacterial release would kill her. The only option open to us was penicillin. I sped down to our local feed store (not the one I found this hen at) and bought some injectable livestock grade penicillin. I got it home and we gave her a dose of it, and then we sat back and waited. Tiramisu’s condition continued to disintegrate, and about 2 hours later, she died. We drove her body out to the mountains and dug a little grave for her. Never will we forget our sweet Tira. Earlier that day we went back to the unnamed feed store and bought the other hen that was in with Tira. To this day she thrives outside, having a better life than ever she would have.

    Bumblefoot The Grave of Tiramisu

    Butterscotch Scotchie with Tira

    There was another thing to be watching the chickens for as they got older: eggs. Every day we would watch our chickens to see if they were snooping around the nesting boxes. We were also on the lookout for the “egg squat”, which is a sign that eggs are close. Finally, the blessed day arrived, and my Rhode Island Red Chicken Little left a small brown gift for us on the lawn. Unfortunately, this egg was broken before it could be seen by anyone other than my younger sister. However, upon closer inspection, the egg insides revealed something else. It had been fertilized. I would never have yielded a chick even if it had not broken, because one cannot incubate any chicken’s first eggs, known as “pullet eggs”, but it was still an exciting find. After that day our egg count gradually rose, and with the addition of two new hens to our flock, we are now getting up to ten eggs daily.

    Most people would stop after accomplishing what we have. Most would be content with thirteen chickens, but not us. We began to research the incubation process, and after ordering our first incubator, we ordered our first dozen hatching eggs. Then we ordered our second, and then our third. All of a sudden we had 132 hatching eggs being mailed our way and four incubators/hatchers to put them in. Many of the eggs that were on their way were Blue Orpingtons and Salmon Faverolles; we have decided to breed these and sell hatching eggs for fun and profit. This will be a learning experience in and of itself, but first we must master the art of incubating.

    Our first hatch went very badly, yielding 6 chicks out of thirteen viable eggs. This was due to a hatcher that was unsteady both in temperature and humidity. We then put out second dozen into the hatcher, a more reliable one that time. We got seven Australorps out of ten viable eggs. This was a better hatch, but it was a nightmare. Many chicks were born with their intestines on the outside of their bodies. Some were born seemingly blind. Two of them we lost, but the rest healed and are now happy, healthy chicks. After these eggs, the Easter Eggers went into the same hatcher as the Australorps. Out of eight eggs, six stopped developing sometime during early incubation. However, out of the two eggs that were completely developed, we got two healthy, fully formed chicks. Next in the hatcher were six Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, four Blue/Black/Splash Ameraucanas, and one Blue/Black/Splash Orpington (when breeding blue birds to blue birds, you will get 25% black, 50% blue, and 25% splash, which is a very dilute blue color). Of these we got three Blue Laced Reds, no Ameraucanas, and one Splash Orpington. The majority of the eggs that did not hatch had stopped developing sometime ago in early incubation. The next batch of eggs does not go into the hatcher until Tuesday, February 19, 2008. Those eggs will be Wheaton Marans.

    In conclusion of this essay, what started out as an experiment has morphed into a full blown, all consuming addiction/hobby. None of us expected to love having chickens so much, nor to learn so much from them. They have taught us patience, and the value of life, no matter how small. I highly recommend that every child should be given the opportunity to raise chickens of his or her own. Through this, valuable lessons can, and will, be learned. Love, compassion, and understanding of the delicate balance of life are taught through the handling and raising of small chicks. Patience and self-sufficiency are taught through waiting for and harvesting one’s own eggs. Resiliency, maturity, and the ability to bounce back after a painful loss are taught when one passes on that you could not save. All of these valuable lessons and more are taught through the raising of chickens, and hopefully, the children who learn these lessons now, can help to make the world a better place in the future. My family and I will never forget the lessons we have learned, nor will we forget our winged teachers.


    • Chicks need a heat lamp in order to survive their first few weeks of life.
    • You can tell if an egg is fertile or not by looking for the bulls eye shaped blastocyte, located on the yolk.
    • A chick’s incubation period is twenty-one days.
    • In a circulated air incubator, the temperatures need to be around 99.5* F and the humidity needs to be between 40% and 50% until day eighteen. Then the humidity needs to be between 65% and 70% when they are placed In the hatcher.
    • The eggs need to be turned from side to side several times a day during the first 18 days. After that, they are taken out of the turner and placed on their sides in the hatcher.
    • Right before a chick hatches, it must absorb its yolk and into its abdomen.
    • Chickens molt annually, exchanging old feathers for new ones.
    • Chickens take about 20 weeks to lay their first egg, but larger breeds such as Jersey Giants and Brahmas commonly take as long as 25 weeks.
    • The hen to rooster hatching ratio is about 50:50
    • Chickens have a very distinct social structure
    • Chickens are omnivorous and will eat just about anything
    • Citrus is harmful to chickens
    • If a chicken sees bare skin or a wound on another chicken, the entire flock will attack and kill the injured individual if allowed.
    • Some chickens develop bad habits, such as egg eating, that are very difficult to remedy
    • Mature roosters have bony extrusions on the inside of their legs known as “spurs”, these spurs are used as weapons against predators in order to protect the flock, and also as a deterrent for young roosters looking to challenge the adult.
    • If a rooster becomes aggressive and attacks a human with his spurs, they can be removed using a hot potato and a pair of pliers.
    • If there is no rooster around, sometime a hen will take his place. She will crow and even attempt to mount the other hens
    • There are hundreds of diseases that chickens are susceptible to, and in many cases chickens do not show symptoms until they are dead.
    • Chickens can live up to twenty years
    • Some breeds of chicken are better at laying eggs; others are more used for meat, and some are dual purpose meaning they lay well and have good meat on them.
    • Chickens can only lay one egg a day, contrary to popular belief
    • Egg color varies between different breeds of chicken, and also between individuals within a breed
    • Each chicken has an organ called a crop, and if the chicken eats straw or some other non-digestible item, the crop can become clogged and surgical intervention is most often required.
    • Most chicks can be sexed at a few weeks of age by the shape of their saddle feathers, the size and color of their comb, and by their posture.
    • Day old chicks can be sexed by looking inside their vent to see their reproductive organs, but this is done only by professionals
    • The growth on top of a chickens head is called a comb, and the growths growing under their chin are called wattles.
    • Chicks are no longer considered chicks after they have completely feathered out
    • After a chick is feathered out, it is then recognized a either a cockerel or a pullet, depending on whether it is a girl or boy.
    • A chicken stops being called a cockerel or pullet when they reach one year of age, at which point they are called either hen or rooster
    • Every type of feather on a chicken has a name. The feathers on the tips of the wings are the flight feathers, the feathers near the base of the tail are the saddle feathers, the feathers on the neck are the hackle feathers, the feathers near the shoulder are the wingbow feathers etc.
    • The first feathers to come in after a chick hatches are the flight feathers, quickly followed by the tail, wingbow, saddle, and breast feathers until the entire chick is feathered out
    • When a chick is born, it uses a bony extrusion from its beak to break its shell; this is called an egg tooth, which will fall off when the chick is a few weeks of age.
    • Most breeds of chicken have four toes on each foot, but some breeds, such as Faverolles and Silkies, have five toes on each foot.
    • When it comes to breeding and genetics, certain traits are dominant, such as green egg laying and feather footedness.
    • Chickens take dust bathes daily, this keeps their plumage clean and helps keep lice and mites away
    • The accepted flock rooster : hen ratio is one rooster to eight to ten hens; more roosters to the same amount of hens will result in over bred, beat up, and harassed hens.
    • Roosters are territorial; if there are not enough hens to go around, roosters will fight for breeding rights and will sometimes kill each other in the process
    • Predators to chickens include bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, hawks, snakes, bears, falcons, dogs, and sometimes even turkeys, squirrels, and other chickens.
    • Many people predator proof their chicken’s living space by covering the run, burying the fence 6” into the ground to prevent animals from digging under it, and stringing cds across the top of the run to prevent birds of prey from seeing what is inside (see fig. 4)
    • Chickens are found in almost every country worldwide
    • Certain breeds of chicken have a special gene that makes them lay blue, green, and pink eggs (Ameraucana, Araucana, and Easter Egger)
    • Because of their structured social system, introducing new chickens to an established flock is very difficult, and there is often bloodshed
    • When you obtain a new chicken, it is standard to quarantine it for six weeks to be sure it carries no disease.
    • Eggs from backyard chickens are much more healthy and rich in nutrients than store bought eggs
    • Chickens that have not yet laid their first egg are fed chick started and/or start and grow. After they have laid their first egg they are switched to either layer pellets or layer crumbles.
    • Mature roosters do not have a special type of feed, so they eat layer pellets along with the hens
    • Owners can choose between medicated and non-medicated chick starter
    • Certain breeds, especially Silkies, have a tendency to go broody, which means that they begin to stay on the nest and try to hatch out chicks from their eggs.
    • Many people order hatching eggs online and give them to their broody to hatch out
    • It is possible to create new colors that breed true in any breed of chicken through selective breeding. The same is true for other traits such as feathered feet or egg color.

    Are you still with me?? [​IMG]

    If you are I am most impressed! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2008
  3. okiechick57

    okiechick57 Songster

    [​IMG] I am totally impressed..............job well done Jess.......you can be proud....I am.... I KNOW your momma is ! [​IMG]
  4. Scrambled Egg

    Scrambled Egg Flock Mistress

    Aug 29, 2007
    Fayetteville, NC
    A chicken stops being called a cockerel or pullet when they reach one year of age, at which point they are called either hen or rooster

    Someone on the forum just asked this very question today!! Good job, I'll give you an "A", hope your teacher does too!! [​IMG]
  5. okiechick57

    okiechick57 Songster

    Scrambled......I think her teacher will [​IMG] hey Suz?
  6. ChicknThief

    ChicknThief Songster

    Jan 12, 2008
    Nor Cal
    Quote:Someone on the forum just asked this very question today!! Good job, I'll give you an "A", hope your teacher does too!! [​IMG]

    Quote:This is actually going to my Education Specialist, not mom, LOL. I sure hope I get an A!!! [​IMG]
  7. okiechick57

    okiechick57 Songster

    I don't think you will get anything less Jess.......... do let us know !
  8. ChicknThief

    ChicknThief Songster

    Jan 12, 2008
    Nor Cal
    I have very last person on this forum to thank for this. Without all of you, my essay would have looked like this....

    "Uhhhhh,.... chickens lay eggs. The end. "

  9. MonkeyZero

    MonkeyZero Songster

    Sep 14, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I read it all! Now i dont think I can read for about a month! J/k!

    how long did it take?!

    GREAT JOB! [​IMG] [​IMG]
  10. texaschickmama

    texaschickmama Songster

    Sep 19, 2007
    Poolville, TX
    A+ from me.

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